Attention West Hollywood (WeHo) shoppers, new furs are no longer for sale in WeHo! A federal court recently dismissed constitutional challenges to the City of West Hollywood’s (WeHo) city-wide ban prohibiting the sale of fur products (Ordinance No. 11-877) brought by Mayfair House, Inc., a luxury retailer of clothing products including fur-lined parkas and shearling gloves and slippers. The controversial ban on fur went into effect last year and prohibits the sale, import, export, trade, or distribution of any fur product by any means anywhere within the City of West Hollywood on or after September 21, 2013 — subject to certain exemptions.
In granting the City’s Motion to Dismiss with prejudice as to the federal claims, Chief Judge George H. King rejected the Plaintiff’s claims the Ordinance violated the Equal Protection Clause because it arbitrarily discriminated (i) against new clothing retailers by allowing sales of used fur by private parties and second-hand stores; (ii) against for-profit and non-profit entities; and (iii) against sellers of “wearing apparel” versus sellers of other fur products (like handbags, future, and home goods, all of which are protected by the statute’s exemptions). Rather, the federal court held the Ordinance is rationally related to the City’s legitimate legislative goal of promoting community awareness of animal welfare and furthers the City’s reputation as a Cruelty Free Zone for animals.
Judge King also denied Plaintiff’s facial due process challenges to the Ordinance language (“fur,” “wearing apparel,” “second-hand store,” “internet transactions,” and “private party”), and ruled such language is not unconstitutionally vague. Noting common definitions and the fair notice provided by the City, Judge King ruled, “[t]he Ordinance is not unconstitutionally vague on its face because people of ordinary intelligence can understand what it prohibits, it does not invite arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, and Plaintiff’s conduct is clearly prohibited by the Ordinance.” The court dismissed the Section 1983 claim because the Plaintiff failed to state claims for violations of equal protection and due process, and rejected further leave to amend due to futility. In addition, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Plaintiff’s state law claims, which were dismissed without prejudice.
California is a leader of animal rights legislation ranging from statewide bans onfoie gras/force feeding and product-testing limits where alternative non-animal tests are available, to city bans on the sales of puppies from puppy mills in Los Angeles, San Diego, Glendale, and West Hollywood. While some retailers continue to find loopholes in the law to appease existing customers, it is anticipated California’s trailblazing laws will serve as examples for other states to follow throughout the nation.
Read the Court’s ruling here.